Crystal Palace: Five Things We Need To Do To Choke Chelsea
1. MIND GAMES
Where do you start when facing the might of Mourinho and his masterful mind games? Well, one thing that Pulis must not do is to get involved in the traditional pre-match verbal scrap with Jose, as there is only ever going to be one winner in that battle - and, needless to say, he doesn’t wear a baseball cap.
After their demolition of Arsenal last weekend it is difficult to see any chink in Chelsea’s armour, but somehow we have to mount the ramparts and indulge in some sabre-rattling whilst manning the barricades.
2. FORGET THE PAST
History is not on the Eagles' side. Of the last dozen league encounters, Chelsea have won eight and drawn four. The last time Palace beat the Stamford Bridge side in the league was way back in August 1990, before the Premier League had even launched - and Ian Wright scored the winner.
Oh, what we would give for a repeat of that result almost a quarter of a century on. Of course, we do not currently have anyone even close to emulating Wrighty, or indeed any of the team who finished 1990/91 season placed third in the old First Division. Heady times they might have been, but it all feels like a very long time ago now.
3. POOR DIET
There is no lack of team spirit but togetherness can only get you so far with the likes of Chelsea as they can grind teams into the earth and it is difficult to envisage us managing too many shots, let alone goals as we face a defence that has only conceded eight goals in the last 20 matches. With Chammers still out we have nobody who can lead the line in the same way so the likelihood is that we will have to rely on a not particularly healthy diet of scraps and dead balls.
4. KEEP RIGHT ON TO THE END OF THE ROAD
Last week’s heartbreaking ninety fourth minute defeat at St. James’ Park was a real kick in the wotsits, but it underlined that we simply must learn to maintain concentration right up to the bitter end (and what a bitter end it was).
Pulis is a stickler for fitness and, in time, he will drill that into the players. You never know, one day, it might even be us who snaffle a game with the last kick.
5. ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE BARRY A CHANCE
It is a player who has featured only fleetingly this season who could be the key in this fixture. Pulis has by and large ignored Barry Bannan, the diminutive Scot, so far - and it could be argued that that is one of the gaffer's few faiings.
Bannan may not have the defensive work rate or physical stature of other midfielders, but he does have the ability to take people on, and when in the mood he can be a real threat.so unleashing him might just add that missing spark.
In fact, when on form, he reminds me a little of an old Chelsea favourite and fellow Scot, Pat Nevin. Although we really are going back into ancient history with that reference.
Let's focus on the here and now - Barry Bannan could give us that spark we've been missing, and is Pulis gambles on him, he may just be the man of the moment come Saturday.
Follow Richard on Twitter at @rcfoster